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Orchid Ensemble | Life Death Tears Dream

album review by John Powell

Orchid Ensemble | Life Death Tears Dream

On Orchid Ensemble’s third LP, the trio takes on a wide variety of compositions, and accomplishes a variety of sounds with marimba, percussion, violin, zither, and some vocals.

Of course, Life Death Tears Dream is not a pop album. It’s Chinese compositions that all fit the Chinese folk cliché, and not in a bad way. These songs sound like they could be ancient. It’s really the zither that creates such a timeless quality throughout this set.

The most beautiful track is “Tune of Mulberry”. Delicately it swarms with intertwining violin and zither, autumnally cascading. It’s sparse but rich, mellow and reflective.

“Wind Desires the Clouds” features vocals, a bizarre melody, but it’s pulled off over the tidy instrumentation.

The finale, “Ghostly Moon” takes the cake, though. On this 10-minute track, two speakers relate an eerie Chinese tale about death and love. It’s excellent.

Life Death Tears Dream has a natural feel, something for a quiet afternoon. It’s beautiful music, but something you’re not likely itching to bust out in your Jeep. For the right mood, however, Orchid Ensemble has made something organic and special.

Bottom line: Chinese compositions that are tempered, emotive, and placid.


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